Novès backing his youngsters to shine

Date published: February 5 2016

New France head coach Guy Novès is backing his young side to impress when they face Italy in their Six Nations opener in Paris on Saturday.

Les Bleus have plenty to prove to their fans, after a disastrous World Cup campaign – in which they suffered a humiliating 62-13 defeat to New Zealand in their quarter-final – but Novès is confident his inexperienced charges can hit the ground running against the Azzurri.

The former Toulouse boss has named four uncapped players – Jonathan Danty, Virimi Vakatawa, Sébastien Bezy and Paul Jedrasiak – in his starting line-up as well as three debutants – Camille Chat, Jefferson Poirot and Yacouba Camara – amongst the replacements.

"They're young, maybe too young you might say," Novès told AAP.

"But what I know for sure is that they won't let us down in terms of their attitude."

Tighthead prop Rabah Slimani, who is one of only five surviors from that World Cup loss to the All Blacks, echoed his coach's sentiments.

"The new generation has to show that France is not dead," he said.

After the World Cup, France lost stalwarts like captain and flanker Thierry Dusautoir, lock Pascal Pape and prop Nicolas Mas to retirement and Slimani is aware that there is now added pressure on his shoulders as one of the senior players in les Bleus' squad.

"I was honoured to play alongside Thierry, Nico, Pascal," he added.

"We haven't proved anything. It's our turn to do so."